Relief as SEND children can play together for first time since lockdown

Nicola Taylor, from Dereham, with her husband Dominic, and children Evie, seven, and Daniel, five.

Nicola Taylor, SENsational Families administrator and virtual co-ordinator, with her husband Dominic, and their two children Evie, seven, and Daniel, five. - Credit: Nicola Taylor

A mother has spoken of the relief of being able to take her daughter with complex needs to a safe play area after the "emotional fallout" of lockdown.

Nicola Taylor, from Dereham, will be one of 60 people from families with children who have special educational needs or a disability (SEND) enjoying a play area and crafts at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse on Sunday, July 18.

The new playground at Gressenhall Rural Life Museum Photo Norfolk Museums

The revamped play area at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse pictured in May 2021. - Credit: Norfolk Museums

The event has been arranged by SENsational Families, which supports SEND families, and will be the first time caregivers and parents of SEND youngsters have met physically since the first lockdown.

Mrs Taylor, 42,  SENsational Families administrator and virtual co-ordinator , said: "During lockdown in my home there was a lot of anxiety, screaming and meltdowns. It was stressful."

Her daughter Evie, seven, has always lived with complex needs after being starved of oxygen at birth.

The loss of routine in lockdown put the seven-year-old in a heightened state.

These circumstances increased the pressure on her son Daniel, five, and husband, Dominic, who was furloughed and took over the bulk of the childcare while Mrs Taylor worked from home.

"Daniel would hide in different rooms because Evie would lash out. It has been extremely difficult. There has been an emotional fallout from everything. It has been a rough ride. It was about survival.

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"It is amazing to have more places to visit like Gressenhall that are safe environments for SEND children. It will be a celebration for our community," Mrs Taylor added.

Andrea Bell, SENsational Families operations manager, said: "To be able to go to a SEND-friendly place where they parents don't have to worry about their child is brilliant. The children are excited."

She added referrals to the charity had increased in the lockdown and over the past year it had supported 187 families with behavioural issues and education, health and care plans for school placements, among other issues.

The mother-of-two from Saxthorpe added SEND young people were dealing with anxiety from lockdown.

Carers had also struggled with reduced access to support groups, family help and speech and language therapy, among other services, she said.